Investigations

The enemy lurks in shadows
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yoroba
Posts: 97
Joined: Thu May 14, 2020 11:25 am

I'm looking for a little input on investigating.

E.g. my players walk into a room containing a murder scene. They need to investigate the room for clues.
  • Would you have them take a perception test and from the SL give out clues?
  • Or would you want them describe in detail what they do, for them to get the clues? (E.g. if they don't specifically say the search the cupboard, they won't find the bloodied knife it contains?).
  • Or maybe even a combined intuition / perception test and from the SL you give out clues?
Any thoughts or useful experiences on this topic?
FitFitNitMin
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2021 8:49 am

I suppose the first option would be the best as the more SLs the better the search would be. Finding a bloody knife in a drawer not too difficult either so only 2-3 SL needed
yoroba
Posts: 97
Joined: Thu May 14, 2020 11:25 am

A perception- only test?
Or would a perception and a intuition roll with a combined SL-total, be better?
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Hyarion
Posts: 226
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:56 am

Given that it's a "critical path" to the adventure, I would communicate to the players and then require that they be specific about where they're looking. Just walking into the room and saying "I want to look around" would only reveal what is out in the open.

Alternatively, as a compromise, you could break the room down into several sections (with each requiring their own roll): The cupboards, fireplace, bed.

There are two main things that ruin this kind of scene in an adventure:
1) When one player searches an area, and rolls poorly, then everybody else knows when a roll is a poor roll and then the others will pile on and all start searching the same area hoping to get more SLs.
2) When one player searches the cupboards, you give the response in public, and then all the other players know what was found (or taken with the above) that there is more to be found. As opposed to giving the results in secret (via PM or notes or other) which forces the players to communicate and RP amongst themselves.

If your players end up missing something important, have them roll intuition tests as they leave that they forgot something.

You could have your players tell you their stat, and then you roll it in secret so they didn't know they rolled poorly. Remember that they should only be rolling if there are consequences to failure, if there's a bloody knife in plain sight in a cabinet, if someone searches the cabinets, they should find the knife no matter what they rolled.
I hold the glaive of Law against the Earth.
yoroba
Posts: 97
Joined: Thu May 14, 2020 11:25 am

Thank you for the input :)
SuperBidi
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2022 5:15 am

The subject is quite old, but I'll answer as it may help other GMs.

One issue with investigations is that you want your party to find some clues, like the murder weapon, when others may be left behind without ruining the adventure, like the exotic feather. As such, if you ask for a Perception check, you have to consider the possibility of failure, and the fact that your players will all ask for a check at every location to maximize their chances.

What I do is to use an extended test for the important clues. As long as my players are giving me intelligent ideas, I allow them to roll Perception (or Intuition or whatever is logical) to participate to the extended test. When they reach milestones (like every 5 SLs for example) I give them an important clue.
There are numerous advantages to this way of doing it:
- Everyone participates. As long as you have a good idea you contribute to the success of the whole party. It also opens up more skills with ease, there's no need to use a specific skill to find a specific item as I can choose the item you find depending on the skill used to reach the milestone.
- Players don't all roll for the same things. If players search the cupboard, only the first roll (or first few rolls if it's a big cupboard) will participate to the extended test. So there's no need to all come rolling. It's more logical and less metagamey that way.
- Ultimately, they will find all the important clues (once the extended test is over I can tell them they think they have well searched the place or they can realize it as they stop finding clues). So I never end up in this situation where you ask them Intuition tests to realize they missed something, with all the characters searching again a place that is nearly empty because they forgot the cupboard. And in general they still miss the cupboard so you have to tell them and it just feels bad.
- It's very easy to add a time constraint. I can consider that each character can roll once every 10 minutes. So if they have half an hour to search the room they will all make 3 tests at most.

And If I want the feather to be hard to find, I can put it outside the extended test so only the player who will search the proper place will have a chance to find it.
yoroba
Posts: 97
Joined: Thu May 14, 2020 11:25 am

This is a really good idea! Thank you.
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